Kate Garraway: Derek’s Story, review: a devastating cry for help for Britain’s carers

Kate Garraway and Derek Draper at home in May 2023
Derek's Story was the third documentary about Garraway and Draper - Flicker Productions
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Among the many poignant moments in Kate Garraway: Derek’s Story (ITV1) was a clip from their wedding video. Derek Draper was giving his groom’s speech. “I have never felt more alive than I do in Kate’s presence,” he said, gazing down at his wife. “Spending my limited time on this planet in the company of such a woman seemed like a damn fine idea within just a few weeks of meeting her.”

That was 2005. Draper’s time on this planet turned out to be shorter than anyone imagined. He died in January, aged 56, four years after contracting Covid. The virus had a catastrophic effect, leaving him unable to walk or perform even the most basic tasks unaided. A downstairs room in the family home was converted into a room for Draper, where he lay in a hospital bed.

Garraway looked after him tirelessly, aided by carer Jake and other professionals. At times, she admitted, it was “an absolute slog”. Yet she kept the show on the road, maintaining family life with Draper and their two teenage children, strong in the face of adversity and often with a smile on her face.

This documentary, the third and final chapter in Draper’s story, was a powerful cry for help on behalf of Britain’s carers. Getting adequate support is a bureaucratic nightmare, and then there is the cost. Draper’s care cost nearly £4,000 a week, excluding rehabilitative therapy. It is an enormous sum, which Garraway said she could not afford despite her jobs as a presenter for ITV’s Good Morning Britain and Smooth Radio. How do the less well-off cope?

Derek Draper and Kate Garraway during the filming of Love Your Garden with Alan Titchmarsh
Garraway revealed the emotional, physical and financial cost of being a carer - Television Stills

A segment of the programme featured ordinary people discussing the pressures of caring for parents, partners or children – sometimes all three at once. “Right now, I feel like I’m not living,” said one. “I’m just existing.” Draper was shown speaking to Garraway and to the film-maker, Lucy Wilcox, whose voice could be heard asking him questions.

His answers were short but always immediate. He recalled his first meeting with Garraway: a blind date in the bar at Claridge’s. “What did you first think of her?” asks Wilcox. “I thought she was fit,” replied Draper, a brief reminder of the man he used to be. Clips interspersed through the programme showed him so full of energy in his New Labour days. “Covid changed everything,” he wrote in a notepad.

Garraway had learned to anticipate her husband’s needs and interpret his reactions, treating him with great tenderness. When an old colleague, Labour MP Liz Kendall, came to visit, she saw instantly that he found it difficult to meet someone who reminded him of his past. The most difficult moments were hearing Draper cry out, howling in frustration at his predicament.

Filming began in the spring of 2023, when Garraway was cautiously hopeful about the future, and ended after Draper’s death. The fight to improve the care system is “Derek’s legacy”, Garraway said. Like the wedding video, the documentary is a testament to the couple’s love for one another. If Garraway has any regrets, she said at the end, it was the time she spent fighting the system when she could have been holding his hand.

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